Comic actor Len Prossor, a member of the British Embassy Players, was born into a London-based stage family who "told me ever since I could remember to stay out of show business--'it's no good.' Eventually I became a journalist, and I've dabbled in music on the side."
His talent for comedy was first recognized toward the end of World War II when he was assigned to an entertainment unit in the British army. Prossor's specialty is music-hall comedy, a tradition, he says, that goes back to the early 19th century. "American vaudeville and British music hall were interchangeable," he points out, "and the artists themselves traveled across the Atlantic, British coming here to be on the Ortheum circuit and American artists were very popular in Britain." Prossor, who has lived in the area since the late '50s, will be part of the bill at 2 this afternoon when the Northern Virginia Ragtime Society presents a program at Jordon Kitts Studio, 2748 Gallows Rd., Vienna, Va.
Prossor cited several examples of the genre. In a routine called "The Pukka Sahibs of Khatmandu," a man reciting a straight poem about the army outpost there is frequently and mercilessly interrupted by two drunken army officers staggering through the audience, "telling him that he's wrong geographically and 'a cad for saying that Caruthers was after the colonel's daughter.' " Eventually they drive him from the stage. Another is a tragicomic monologue about a man who wore brown boots to his mother's funeral when everyone else was in proper black foot gear, "the essence of music hall pathos and comedy all rolled up in one."
Prossor dons appropriate hats and utilizes various props for the skits. Pianist Barbara Jaffray will accompany him. Also featured will be Marguerite Brice with silent-screen organ selections, tenor Bill Thatcher and pianist Alex Hassan. For information call (703) 791-3603.